Bulgaria becomes regional hub for gas supplies

Bulgaria has received strong support from the European Commission for its decision to refuse to pay Russia for gas in roubles. [Shutterstock/Circlephoto]

The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.


The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.


In today’s news from the Capitals:

SOFIA

A regional coordination centre will be set up in Bulgaria to manage the overall use of gas and electricity infrastructure and additional gas purchases for the Balkans and Italy, announced Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asen Vassilev in Brussels after meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Thursday (28 April). Read more.

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Editor’s take: Caution is required when waging an economic war. The argument taken up by analysts and experts to convince themselves that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attack Ukraine was that a war would run counter to economic logic. They overlooked the fact that Putin expected victory in a few days and that he considered the subjugation of Ukraine to be his historical mission. Read more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

Timmermans: Scaremongering on food security ‘dishonest, irresponsible’. Spreading fears of food shortages is “irresponsible and dishonest”, according to European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who accused critics of using the war in Ukraine as a “pretext” to derail the EU’s green farming ambitions. Read the full story.

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PARIS

Ex-President Hollande says Left alliance could ‘kill’ Socialist Party. An alliance between France’s leftist parties ahead of the legislative elections could result in the Socialist Party disappearing, a one-time socialist leader and former President François Hollande warned. Read more.

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BERLIN

Germany prepared for ‘sudden’ Russian gas ban, says Scholz. Germany has prepared for the day it is “suddenly” cut off from Russian gas, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austrian states call to end kindergarten headscarf ban. Austrian states are calling for the headscarf ban in kindergartens to be lifted despite the federal ministries, currently led by the conservative party (ÖVP), aiming to maintain the ban.  Read more.

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THE HAGUE

Dutch right-wing extremists fuelled by Ukrainian war. The Russian narrative of the war in Ukraine is fuelling radical ideas in extremist groups, according to Erik Akerboom, the director of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), reports broadcaster NOS. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN 

Irish PM says Brexit, NI protocol issues hinder peace process. Issues surrounding Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol have “hindered” the Northern Irish peace process, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a parliamentary committee on Thursday. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

COPENHAGEN

Denmark to send tanks, anti-tank mines, and mortar shells to Ukraine. Denmark is sending M113 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), anti-tank mines, and mortar shells to Ukraine, DR News reported on Thursday. Read more. 

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HELSINKI

Nearly half of Finns ready to turn engines off. Almost half of the Finnish people would be ready to cut down their travels and commuting in case the price of transport fuels keeps rising, a new survey has found. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish Left Party calls for NATO referendum. Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar called for a referendum on the country’s likely NATO application in an interview on Radio Eko on Thursday. Read more. 


EUROPE’S SOUTH

MADRID

Basque pro-independence party ‘saves’ Spanish anti-crisis package in parliament. Parliament approved the government’s new anti-crisis package that aims to alleviate the negative impact of the Ukraine war on the economy with a narrow majority – including the Basque pro-independence Party – on Thursday. Read more.

Spain reaffirms NATO unity in face of Russian invasion of Ukraine.  NATO allies remaining united is the best way to win the war Russian President Vladimir Putin launched against Ukraine, Defence Minister Margarita Robles reiterated on Thursday. Read more.

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ROME

Italy extends face mask mandate indoors, workplace ruled exception. In Italy, wearing a face mask will remain mandatory in schools, public transportation, and indoor events but will only be “strongly recommended” in all workplaces as of 1 May. Read more.

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ATHENS

Athens says it will ‘respect’ Finland’s decision to join NATO. Greece will respect Finland’s potential decision to join NATO, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday at a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin in Athens. Read more.

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LISBON

Portuguese PM reminds opposition what ‘real austerity’ is. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa accused the opposition on Thursday of wanting to damage the international economic and financial credibility of the country. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BUDAPEST 

Hungary would pay Gazprom in roubles. Hungary does not think Russia’s Gazprom will cut gas to the country and does not have a plan to replace it “overnight”, the government said on Thursday, adding that it will pay in roubles if needed. Read more.

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WARSAW

Russian ban leaves Polish municipalities without gas. The Russian-controlled Novatek Green Energy company cut gas supplies to several Polish municipalities due to the sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs and firms. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Chips Act tops Czech presidency priorities. With the Czech Republic taking over the rotating EU Council presidency in July, it has confirmed that it wants to focus on the refugee crisis, energy independence, and the Chips Act. Read more. 

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BRATISLAVA

Ukrainians buy off-road cars in Slovakia to send to war zones. Ukrainians have started to buy used off-road cars in bulk to use them in the areas where infrastructure has been destroyed after the Ukrainian government waived tariffs on imported cars. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

BELGRADE 

Analyst: Serbia letting military kit cross country to Ukraine should not hurt Russian relations. Serbia allowing railroad transportation with non-combat military equipment for Ukraine to cross its territory is not legally wrong, military analyst Aleksandar Radić said on Thursday, adding that he did not expect this to result in any damage to relations with Russia. Read more.

Stellantis to produce electric cars in Serbia. Representatives of the Stellantis company and the Serbian cabinet signed a contract on financing the manufacturing of electric cars at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles car factory in Kragujevac in Belgrade on Thursday. Read more.

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ZAGREB | BUDAPEST

Hungarian, Croatian minority policies setting example to EU, says foreign minister. Hungary and Croatia pursued their minority policies based on the principle of protection of ethnic minorities, and they could serve as an example to the whole of the EU, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday. Read more.

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SARAJEVO | ZAGREB 

BiH police relocate illegal migrants. Police relocated illegal migrants to a reception centre in Lipa near Bihać after they had emptied a camp near the Croatian border in Velika Kladuša, local media said. Read more.

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SARAJEVO

BiH authorities suspend construction of new mini hydroelectric plants. Authorities have decided to suspend the issuance of licences for the construction of small hydroelectric power plants following several campaigns launched by domestic and international environmental groups. Read more.

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SKOPJE

Macedonian parliament speaker disturbed by number of graves in Ukraine. Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi says he will strive for Macedonian institutions and the public to provide all possible support to the war-ravaged country together with the EU and the international community after he visited Ukraine’s destroyed town of Irpin and the ruins of Hostomel airport on Wednesday. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Montenegro gets new Assembly speaker, ministers. The Assembly elected Danijela Đurović on Wednesday, after which deputies held a debate on the composition of Montenegro’s 43rd government. Read more.

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TIRANA

Zelenskyy to address Albanian parliament. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the Albanian parliament on Wednesday after previously addressing many of Europe’s lawmakers. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: EU’s chief diplomat on Latin America trip in Chile, Panama / European Parliament President Roberta Metsola meets European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski 
  • Germany: German Bundestag plenary session in Berlin.
  • Austria: Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn meets with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
  • France: Final plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg.
  • Latvia: Foreign Affairs ministers of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland meet in Riga to discuss cooperation and Ukraine.
  • UK: Sentencing of tennis star Boris Becker, after guilty verdict on four charges relating to his bankruptcy.
  • Bulgaria: Prime Minister Kiril Petkov will visit Romania.
  • Croatia: Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds organises a conference on the industrial transition of Croatian regions in Osijek.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson] 

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